Creation and Theistic Evolution
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I don’t understand everything about theistic or Darwinian evolution. Nor am I a scientist. What one can glean from writings on either side of the fence is not always accurate. I also understand that there are genuine believers who find the theory of evolution so convincing that they feel obliged to accept its ‘findings’. However, what concerns me is the apparent ease with which some dismiss or simply disregard crucial verses and passages of scripture, or with what ardour they defend theistic evolution against the plain teaching of the Bible. This is written to challenge things which, in my opinion, are too easily taken for granted, and to pose what I hope are pertinent questions. Now there may different versions of theistic evolution and indeed intelligent design. It is not my purpose here to explore all of these different theories. I simply use the term theistic evolution for the idea that God was involved in some way in the process of evolving ‘simple’ life-forms into more complex ones. (Of course, if one is to be accurate, there is nothing simple about a single-cell organism and science still fails completely to explain the process by which such an organism could have come about. The idea that certain gases and chemicals merged under sunlight and allowed some sort of photosynthesising compound or ‘simple life-form’ to come into being is simply guesswork, a stab in the dark. What is concerning is that this is related as fact in TV documentaries and in schools, whereas it is more truthful and scientific to say that they simply do not know how life started – because they don’t. There is no evidence to support the above suggestion. None whatsoever! Why don’t they simply say so? Are they too embarrassed to express such ignorance? It would do science more credit if they did. What is wrong or unscientific about saying, ‘We don’t know how life started but here are some possible scenarios!)
Here is some interesting information:
It is said that chimpanzees share 98.5% of the human DNA…
This could create the impression (deliberately or otherwise) that chimps are 98.5% human – or that we are 98.5% chimpanzee! In other words, this figure is sometimes presented in such a way as to suggest that chimps and humans are very close in evolutionary terms, that it is only a small step for chimps to develop into humans, or indeed that humans developed from apes. However, this would be totally misleading. Surely, it is not as simple as that. Let’s put it into some kind of context. Scientists also tell us that a banana shares about 50% of our genes, the cabbage about 57%, the fruit fry about 60%, the mouse about 65% and the nematode (a millimetre-long soil-dwelling worm) about 75%. Now, who would claim that we are 57% cabbage? Or that a fruit fly is 60% human? Or that a nematode is ¾ of the way to becoming a human? Can you find anything less likely to look like a human than the nematode, which shares 75% of our genes? When we look at these figures it puts the proposition in a whole new light and we might be forgiven for feeling misled. Scientific information should be presented in proper context and should incorporate the main relevant details to give a balanced and objective perspective on things. To be selective in what one chooses to reveal in order to support a particular viewpoint constitutes bias or propoganda, not rational debate or science.
That a chimp may share 98.5% of the human genome in no way means that it is 98.5% human or even near to becoming human (or ever became human) in any evolutionary process. Such similarity in DNA, whether in a chimp or the nematode, does not of necessity denote a common ancestry, that is, that humans evolved from apes or from a nematode, or from a cabbage for that matter! It can equally be evidence of a common Creator. What could be more natural that God, who made all living things, should create them by using common biological building blocks for certain functions in organic life forms, and other building blocks to establish a difference between them?
The other false impression that can be created is the inference that a 1½% gap in the genetic code between chimps and humans is incredibly small and that in ‘evolutionary’ terms this brings them very close together. However, the reality of the situation is quite different. Namely, DNA contains its information in the sequence of four chemical compounds known as nucleotides. The human DNA has at least 3,000,000,000 nucleotides in sequence. The genetic difference between human and the chimpanzee, is said to be about 1.5%. Calculated out, that is a gap of at least 48,000,000 nucleotides which are not the same! The enormous magnitude of this difference is brought home to us when we are told that a change of only half a dozen nucleotides can be fatal to a species! Some therefore consider such a gap to be unbridgeable in evolutionary terms.
Let’s look at it this way. Someone can say that you are 98.5% of the way there. This may sound very encouraging and very close. We might imagine 100 metres. If you have already covered 98.5 metres, then you are only 2 short steps away! Hooray! But what if the distance is 3 billion miles? That leaves only 48,000,000 miles for you to cover! If you walked day and night without stopping for 100 years you will never reach your destination! Facts and figures can be misleading. It depends how they are presented!
The other issue that is not addressed properly, is that changes in the genetic code more often lead to disease, disfigurement or even the demise of a species, rather than its survival as a more efficient organism. It is incredible to think that the kind of random genetic changes that would have been necessary to lead to the creation of millions of different species of such different size, shape, colour, and biological structure, has does so fairly flawlessly and did not stall at the outset!
Whichever scientific arguments may have the greater validity, the above comments are given to illustrate how complex the matter really is and that this theory is far from having real conclusive proof! Whether it is genetics, geology or methods of dating objects, processes of interpretation are involved. These processes are not necessarily infallible. However, too easily assumptions are made about the infallibility of these methods when presenting data and conclusions. The danger is that the manner and means of interpreting such ‘evidence’ is taken as full-proof; that scientific interpretation is taken as absolute fact. Had you told scientists 100 years ago that all the celestial bodies you see in the night sky exploded out of an infinitesimally small speck, would they not have called you mad? Science doesn’t always have the answers, or the right answers. One should have thought this would lead to more modest or qualified pronouncements rather than dogmatic statements. This does not always seem to be the case though. When debating these issues on national TV and being accused of arrogance, professor Peter Atkins responded with, ‘What’s wrong with arrogance when you’re right.’ The Australian advocate of creationism, John Mackay, when travelling the UK in 2006 challenged scientists to open debate concerning evolution. No one responded. Ironically, and in contrast to Professor Atkins, Professor Lisa Jardine, a BBC commentator, in defence of the scientists who refused to enter into debate with him, wrote, ‘ …no scientist will take up challenge to “prove” the truth of Darwin’s theory of evolution in a public debate. They know they cannot present a strongly held view based on a body of supporting evidence with the absolute certainty of revealed truth.’ Her article makes very interesting reading. It represents the case that evolution cannot be proven scientifically in a conclusive way since there may be other factors yet undiscovered that they yet modify or undermine the original theory. This was her explanation in the article as to why no one wished to debate the issue with Mr. Mackay (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4950876.stm).
The above comments represent only a very few samples of the challenges that can be levelled at the theory of evolution. However, we will now consider the claims of theistic evolution, which suggests that God manipulated the evolutionary process to develop human beings.
Divine Creation or Theistic Evolution?
Firstly and significantly, the Bible universally and clearly testifies that God created man and all living creatures. The Bible does not bear witness to the idea of evolution in any shape or form, nor is it ‘hinted’ at in any way whatsoever. If God evolved man out of more primitive life forms over millions of years, then why did God inspire Moses (this article recognises Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch or Torah, even as Jesus did) to write in Genesis an account that plainly depicts creation? Why portray so vividly and in detail something that never happened? And why does the Bible in no way and at no stage suggest an evolutionary process? Theistic evolution needs to give some convincing scriptural answers to this and the other questions posed below. Some say that the Genesis account of creation is just allegorical, poetic, or something written in the style of a hymn. In other words, it is not meant to be taken literally. But one can’t just sideline the text so easily! An allegory depicts or reflects a truth; it is not meant to contradict the truth it claims to depict! If the account is ‘just’ an allegory, what is it an allegory of? The account of creation in Genesis is not an allegory for evolution! It presents the creation of life on earth in away that directly and explicitly contradicts an evolutionary process. Was this just an accident? Similarly, the (red herring) argument that the Bible is ‘not meant to teach us science’, fails to apply rational processes of thought to its own contention. Namely, if Gensis I and 2 were ‘not meant to teach us science’, why did God Himself choose to depict a scenario that either has no resemblance to evolution or that actually contradicts what He actually did. Why would God do this? God could have inspired a different allegory to be written that may not have been ‘science’ but still have been at least roughly consistent with the process of evolution! Why is there such a silence in answer to this question? Is it due to a hesitation to verbalise the only logical alternative? Namely, a denial of the divine inspiration of the Bible. Either you deny the divine inspiration of the scriptures, or you make out that God had something written that He knew was totally misleading!
Before you can conclude that it the text is only allegorical and not literal, you need to give serious consideration to 1) the nature of the Hebrew text; 2) to the account itself, and what it does represent, and 3) to the fact that it harmonises with the rest of the Bible.
Similarly, it has been suggested that God couldn’t give an account of evolution since the people of those days wouldn’t have understood the science of it. This is a remarkable argument indeed! Multitudes of people from the beginning of time and up to the present have believed and accepted the Genesis account of creation as literally true without understanding the mechanics of how God created all things in six days. If men and women can believe and accept literal creation, why wouldn’t they be able to believe an allegorical or literal account of evolution if that had been recorded? You don’t have to understand the mechanics of something in order to believe it or accept it! Otherwise virtually no one would get on an aeroplane! But, you might say, we understand the science of flying today! Most people do not understand the science of aerodynamics at all and they still get on planes because they trust in the knowledge and experience of the experts, and they also of course trust in something that has a proven itself to be reliable. How much more is this true of religious faith! Many accept the account of creation as literal because they trust implicitly in the wisdom, power and knowledge of the Almighty Eternal God and have found Him to be utterly reliable in all things! It is not through science, but…
‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:3
Moreover, the theory of evolution has no foundation of demonstrable proof in the way that the laws of aerodynamics demonstrate how an aircraft can fly.
If it was a matter of God making an accommodation to man’s limited understanding, then surely He could have illustrated His power and truth in allegory (or literal fact) by having Moses record that God formed life in the seas first and that through His divine processes He eventually formed man. Those who had a regard for God’s word would have read and believed such an account even as they believe in what has actually been written. From every possible angle, the notion that the ignorance of early man led God to give some sort of fictitious account about the beginnings of life on earth is completely fallacious. It simply doesn’t hold water and has no consistent logic to it. The account of creation is so at variance with the idea of evolution that if evolution were true, it would make the creation account not ‘allegorical’ but wholly fictitious; it would also make the idea that Genesis explains the ‘who’ and evolution the ‘how’ of creation unsustainable – just an unthinking ‘fudge’.
Consider, for example, what kind of God this argument presents us with? It postulates that God evolved man from primitive life forms, but in order not to confuse the human race at the beginning, God invented a fable – a fable that explicitly and directly contradicts what He actually did! Would God, who cannot lie, do such a thing? The suggestion contradicts the very nature of God. Unless, of course, you believe that Genesis was not inspired by the Holy Spirit of God!
If it is suggested that the writer of Genesis did not give an account of evolution because he could not have known about it, then that is the same as saying the passage is not inspired by God and that would make the Genesis account a myth – just something Moses made up out of ignorance or something he ‘borrowed’ from other religions. The Bible itself then becomes unreliable since we don’t know to what extent God inspired it, if at all! Is science then to become the arbiter of how to interpret the Bible? If so, at what stage does science become such an arbiter? The science of 500 years ago? 100 years ago? The science of today or of 100 years from now? If anything, modern science is finally catching up and confirming the truths of the Bible. Stephen Hawking writes in his recent book, ‘The Grand Design’, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing…” He was trying to show that it is no longer necessary to believe in God to explain creation. Far more, he has confirmed what the Bible long ago taught, namely, that God created the word out of that which is not visible! (Heb.11:3). People would have scoffed at such a notion in the past! Science changes and is changing. Why would you make something as changeable as science a yardstick for interpreting important and precious passages of the Bible?
The scriptures teach us that it is by the Holy Spirit that we are to understand and interpret the scriptures – all of the scriptures (2 Peter 1:20,21; 1 John 2:27; John 14:26). There is a fundamental and serious clash going on here. Of himself the writer of Genesis could not have known anything about the origins of life except God should reveal it to him – which is exactly what God did with Moses. It is commendable that people should believe in the inspiration of the Bible and I wouldn’t want to deter anyone from such conviction. However, the idea that theistic evolution does not directly challenge the inspiration the Bible is disingenuous and simply not tenable. To maintain the inspiration of the Bible and evolution is a contradiction in terms. The stance is simply not intellectually sustainable. The only consistent conclusion is that theistic evolution denies the inspiration of at least some of the Bible. Otherwise we have a forced marriage between ideas that are mutually exclusive. You have inherent contradictions that only increase as you look further into the Bible – as we shall shortly see. This is simply a scheme forced upon two irreconcilables by those who impute validity to current scientific theories while still trying to ‘hold on’ to the scriptures. Understandably, for those who believe in theistic evolution, impetus may also be given to this approach by the desire to avoid looking foolish in the eyes of the secular world. This is not an unkind imputation as one very leading ‘evangelical’ said in a debate on national television words to the effect, if not verbatim, ‘People would simply laugh at us if we take the biblical account of creation literally.’ How cheaply we sell ourselves to gain the favour and praise of men!
But are all those who believe in theistic evolution expert scientists of many years standing? Have they all delved into the scientific complexities of all the arguments involved and weighed all the evidence presented? Have they been able to verify that the methods and means by which things dated or interpreted are full-proof? Generally, no. In the nature of things this is of course impossible. If their conviction is not based on the result of their own scientific research, then what is it based on? Nearly all those who hold theistic evolution – or Darwinian evolution – do so as a result of placing their faith and trust in the conclusions of current scientific theories. This is not necessarily a wrong thing to do, but this is what it is – an act of faith and trust. It may be so for many of us in any number of areas, but it is certainly that in this particular case. However, in many cases when we place our trust in the developments of science (getting on a plane or turning on the electricity), we do so because things have been observed, measured, calculated, tried, tested and demonstrated. Evolution has never been observed or verified in this way. It is curious that people should therefore impute to it such infallibility, given that evolution inevitably depends on a degree of interpretation of data and assumptions made. It almost takes on the nature of religious faith!
According to the theory of evolution, new species emerge through the random mutation of the genetic code and natural selection. Those who propose theistic evolution have adapted this theory and suggest that it was God who engineered the evolutionary process to develop man. Theistic evolution is meant to be an intellectually pleasing and a scientifically compatible compromise for the believer. To some believers it may well be. However, the scientific community at large does not find it scientific or pleasing. Science does not recognise the supernatural in its empirical studies and research! For many other Christians today worldwide it does not represent a welcome compromise but is seen as an even more dangerous attack on biblical teaching and inspiration since it seeks to justify evolution to the believer by bringing God into the process. Far from resolving tensions and problems, theistic evolution gives birth to new and perhaps even greater tensions on both sides of the fence and opens up new battlefronts of debate! Science regards theistic evolution as unscientific and a total aberration or parody of Darwin’s theory, and many Christians regard it as error and deception. It is a fatally flawed position that inevitably falls between two stools because its validity is not recognised by either side.
Furthermore, why would our God give an allegory for mankind to believe which does not represent what He actually did and which would only be contradicted many centuries later? If evolution were true (theistic or otherwise), then it was Darwin who first gave the world a proper literal understanding of man’s origin – and not the Bible. This also means that down the centuries multitudes of Christians have had a wrong understanding about the origins of man and the creation of life on earth. Why should God have inspired Moses to write an account that would simply mislead people for centuries? Did God choose not to reveal the true origins of life to Moses but allow an unbeliever (Darwin) – as he eventually became – to do so? And is it not even stranger that Darwin’s theory, that is meant to give us this insight into the nature of the origins of life, has also been responsible for influencing vast multitudes of people not to believe in God at all, and has been used by communist regimes, atheists, secularists and others to harden people in a belief that there is no God? The whole scenario becomes a bizarre one! So if we believe in the inspiration of the Bible, are we to believe that God deliberately inspired the writer of Genesis to describe a process that was simply a fable? Are we to believe that God then used/inspired or allowed a man that had renounced what faith he had, to reveal to the world an account of how God actually created things? This would indeed be a strange providence of God! And why has this ‘revelation’ of Darwin’s been used as a main instrument to turn multitudes away from a belief in God?
As mentioned before, another common argument is that the Bible in general and Genesis in particular is not meant to teach us about science. Well, that may indeed by so, but what conclusions are meant to be drawn from this? That biblical accounts are not reliable? However, just because a book deals with one subject and not another doesn’t automatically render what it says incorrect. You have to show that it is incorrect! Let us use this same logic but from the other side of the coin. If you want to learn about God, the supernatural, the miraculous and the reason why we are here, what would you read? A book on quantum physics? A treatise on biogenetics? No. You would read the Bible. Science is not there to teach us about God, the supernatural and the reason why we are here. The Bible is. It is through the Bible that God Himself communicates to us by His Holy Spirit, how He made us and why He put us here. This is the correct application of the logic above! Science is not there to teach us about the supernatural beginnings of life. The Bible is.
The Bible was not written to teach us science, but the fact is that Moses led the nation of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground as the water stood as walls on either side of them. The Bible was not written to teach us science, but the fact is that from the human angle the sun and moon stood still at Joshua’s command when they conquered the Amorites. (It was no hard thing for God who created all things, including the force of gravity, to stop the earth from spinning and keep everything in its place.); the Bible was not written to teach us science, but the fact is that Jesus was born of a virgin contrary to nature; the fact is that Jesus supernaturally created wonderful mature wine in an instant, not from grapes but from ordinary water. And the wine, which they thought must have been years maturing, was in fact only seconds old! So they would have dated the wine millions of times older than it really was and been quite mistaken about its origins! (This also happens to be the fatal flaw of both ‘scientific’ evolution and theistic evolution, so called.) The fact is that Jesus Christ bore our sins on the cross beyond all scientific explanation. The fact is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, rose from the dead after three days, contrary to natural law and science. It is God, who loved us and made us, that has inspired the Bible to be written to reveal to us why He made us, how He made us and for what purpose He made us. Do we believe in all the above accounts or just some of them? Why would we attribute the supernatural to some events and not others when the text clearly records them all as a fact of history? ‘Not meant to teach us science’, but all wonderfully true!
Those who give credibility to the theory of evolution – of whatever kind – and believe in its unassailable validity will, of course, want to, or be compelled to interpret the Genesis account as some kind of allegory or fable. (However, let them face squarely and honestly answer the contradictions that their standpoint creates.) Others have such a conviction concerning the inspiration of the Bible, that they put complete confidence in the credibility and reliability of a literal understanding of the text when the context demands or indicates this, and because of this they give precedence to the biblical account over any current theory of science. (This conviction should not be confused with, or interpreted as just some kind of legalistic, non-thinking adherence to a doctrine.) If theistic evolution is correct, then it renders any number of scriptures meaningless or false (and we shall see this in greater detail below), and many Christians are believing fantasies and have done so for many centuries. If the unity and integrity of the Bible is maintained, then theistic evolution is not only intellectually mistaken but represents a deception that is spiritual in nature. Moreover, it is sad to see how some people can so easily question passages of the Bible and undermine its integrity, unity and validity – all for the sake of maintaining what they consider to be the integrity and validity of science. That they display a greater respect and regard for ‘science’ than for the Bible might not occur to them as it does to multitudes of others.
Of course no one would argue that there aren’t allegorical passages in the Bible which are not meant to be taken literally, but the question is whether the Genesis account of creation belongs to this category. So we will take a closer look at this account and how it relates to the rest of the Bible.
Now if evolution could be infallibly demonstrated, this would be another matter. But we are not even near such a scenario. A Coelacanth is a fish that was regarded to have become extinct about 60-80 million years ago. David Attenborough informs us that a Coelacanth fossil was discovered in rock dated 400 million years old. It was also regarded by scientists as representing the ‘missing link’ between fish and amphibians. They have since changed or modified their opinion! However, much to the amazement of the scientific community, a number of them have turned up in various locations over recent decades! How could such a fish have remained basically unchanged for 80 million years, not to say for 400 million years? The explanation given by some is that the Coelacanth’s habitat must have remained largely unchanged over 400 million years! Given the huge changes in both climate and geography that have occurred in the earth, this argument cannot be regarded as a serious attempt to explain this phenomenon, at all! This explanation is at best disingenuous, at worst it shows a cavalier as well as anti-scientific interest the questions raised by its appearance. Equally, the argument that the slight genetic differences that there might be between the modern fish and its fossilised ancestor are sufficient to explain the 400 million time period, represents more of a head-in-the-sand approach than it does of scientific enquiry and hones analysis! Whatever explanations scientists may wish to give for this discovery, it begs serious questions about the way in which they seem so easily to dismiss the appearance of anything that may challenge or undermine their theory of evolution. Such is their belief in their theory that their response at times does appear to be cavalier and dismissive, rather than scientific. This theory is certainly taking on the nature of a religion among some in the ‘scientific’ community.
The unity and integrity of the Bible
In Genesis 2:7 it says that God formed Adam (Heb. adam) from the dust of the ground (Heb. adamah). The scriptures clearly teach the man was formed from the dust of the earth. Notice the play on words in the Hebrew for ‘Adam’ and ‘ground’. ‘Adam’ means ‘of red colour or complexion’. So Adam’s name clearly derives from the Hebrew word for ‘ground’ (adamah) and is therefore associated with that ground. These things are not coincidences. By the name given to man, God is underlining the truth that man was formed from the dust of the earth. Listen to what God Himself says in Genesis 3:19, ‘In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread, till you return unto the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and unto dust shall you return.’ This is more than allegory. God is revealing to us that He made man from the soil of the earth. Man was made out of the ground, he did not emerge out of the sea like some amoeba-like creature and gradually develop. The apostle Paul, not speaking out of the ignorance of ‘primitive’ man but by the Spirit of God declares, ‘The first man is of the earth, made of dust: the second man is the Lord from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47). The psalmist states, ‘For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust’ (Psalms 103:14). Theistic evolution makes a nonsense of these scriptures and of God’s own words quoted above. It challenges what the Bible universally presents, not as allegory, but as a truth, namely, that man was made from the dust of the ground, and that God created him as an adult man.
The creation story in Genesis is not only confirmed as historically true throughout the Bible, but it is also foundational to the doctrinal truths that are developed and taught. It is important to recognise that evolution, whether Darwinian or theistic, not only relegates the creation account to some sort of fable, but it also undermines the very theology taught in the Bible with regard to man, sin and redemption. We will now look at further cases where this is so.
The scriptures say that God formed man in His own image. What, from an animal? Genesis makes it quite clear that God created man separate and distinct from the animals and put them immediately in charge over them. There is a solemn, momentous occasion in heaven and history when God says: ‘Let us make man in our own image….and let them have dominion…’ God created man directly, to reflect His image and likeness and therefore with the immediate capacity to know God and have fellowship with Him. According to Bible teaching, man did not develop ‘a little higher’ than the apes, as (theistic) evolution would have us believe, but God made him ‘a little lower than the angels’ (Ps.8:5). The Bible portrays man’s creation as privileged and separate to other creatures. Nor can science or evolution explain man’s capacity for self-awareness and imaginative and creative thinking (a fact confirmed publicly on a TV debate by Prof. Peter Atkins). The theory of evolution opposes God’s own words spoken in heaven and from heaven, which declares to mankind how God made us and for what privileged purpose He made us – namely, to be like Him. This is revelation from God Himself. How is it that some Christians can so easily relegate God’s own gracious revelation to us to some sort of non-literal allegory – it’s not really true, it just represents a spiritual truth? The more one studies the Genesis account, the more one can see how wonderfully significant and full of meaning every verse is; how it all ties together not only in its immediate context but with the teaching of the whole Bible; and what an amazingly specific and detailed rebuttal it represents of the idea of evolution of any kind! (Since people are always quoting that chimps possess 98% of our genes, does theistic evolution hold that present-day apes have the potential to turn into humans that reflect the image of God? Or does it hold that this process stopped once ‘man’ had developed? Or does it hold that only the development of apes into men and women ceased but ‘other’ evolutionary processes continue to this day? These are genuine questions, not rhetorical ones.)
Sin and Salvation
In Rom.5:12-19 the apostle Paul says that through ‘one man’ sin entered the world and it identifies this man to be Adam. This one man is also clearly identified as the first man and federal head of the human race: ‘For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive…The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit…The first man is of the earth, made of dust: the second man is the Lord from heaven’ (1Corinthians 15:22,45,47). These verses clearly teach that Adam was the first man of the human race, and that as the head (the first progenitor) of all mankind, it was Adam who introduced sin and death into all mankind when he sinned. Since all descend from this one man, ‘Adam’, they are all subject to the sin and death that he fell into, with the consequence that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 5 declares that through the offence and disobedience of one man, sin, death and judgement came upon all. This is one of the most fundamental and powerful passages in the NT concerning sin and redemption. Does theistic evolution support the teaching of this passage? What is their theology of sin and death and how do they re-interpret Romans 5 in their new theology? If Adam was the culmination of the evolutionary line, and an innumerable number of evolving ‘men’ had already died, how then could death come by one Adam?
In both 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5, Christ is clearly depicted as the counterpart of Adam. There is a definite parallel between the two. Adam is the first man, and Christ is declared to be the second or last man/Adam. You are either in Adam or in Christ. As federal head, the first Adam plunged mankind into sin and death, and that is the state that men and women find themselves in until the second Adam, Jesus Christ, as the Head of all who believe in Him, saves them from this sin and death and brings in righteousness, peace and life. As there is only one Christ, so there was only one Adam; both being federal heads. Adam is no more an allegorical figure than Christ is! These texts clearly take Adam to be a historical figure. Paul’s language itself clearly leads to such an understanding, and the counter-play between ‘Adam’ and ‘Christ’ in his teaching confirms Adam as one man and not symbolic of untold thousands! Paul is not using allegory or fables to knit together some kind of clever teaching! It is not his invention or his ignorance that is at play here! This teaching is the revelation of God’s truth; the revelation of God’s plan of redemption. It is inspired by the Spirit of God and ordained by the wisdom of God, who, fore-knowing that the first man and federal head of all mankind would sin, had already made provision for salvation through the second man, Christ Jesus. These two men represent the two states of all mankind – either in sin and death (Adam) or in life and righteousness (Christ).
The scriptures not only take the genuine historicity of Adam as a fact of God’s creation, but the whole theology of sin and redemption is bound up with this truth. The teaching of these passages is in total harmony with a literal interpretation of the creation of Adam and Eve. Change this and you have to change the theology of sin and redemption. The following verses also confirm Adam as a historical figure and as the first man: Gen.5:1,3; 1Ch.1:1; Luke 3:38; Jude 1:14. However much it might be denied, evolution (theistic or otherwise) calls into question the validity and inspiration of the scriptures quoted above and the fundamental truths they teach. In other words, there is a conflict between the implications of this theory and the very theology of the origins of sin. To say that Genesis describes the ‘who’ and evolution the ‘how’ is just escapist; a refusal to face up to and explain the inevitable tensions and contradictions that exist between the two, not just in Genesis, but also in the rest of the Bible and in the NT in particular. If the two are compatible, where then is their compatibility in the above verses. This tension is resolved, of course, if people take the stance that the Bible is not inspired by God.
Eve and the Bride of Christ
The NT confirms the Genesis account of creation in every way. When giving instruction concerning the teaching ministry in the church, the apostle Paul refers to the Genesis account of creation as the fundamental truth that underlies his teaching – ‘man’ was first formed and then ‘woman’ (1Tim.2:13). That ‘woman’ was created directly out of ‘man’, Paul confirms in 1Cor.11:8,9. This is the order and manner as depicted in Genesis and represents the basis for NT doctrine and theology. They are fundamental to an understanding of the role of men and women in the church. The import of these verses only have sense here if the creation account is literal – and that is how Paul is interpreting them. If mankind evolved from apes, then both the Genesis account and Paul’s teaching become a nonsense. Jesus Christ refers the Pharisees (Mtt.19:4; Mk.10:2-9) to the account of the creation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2 when answering their question about divorce. He uses the account in Genesis 2 as an authoritative revelation of God’s truth and states that man and woman were made (not evolved) at the beginning of creation – not multiple millions of years after it! What greater, more reliable authority can we have than this?
So the New Testament harmonises with the Genesis account of the creation of man and woman both in apostolic teaching and in the teaching of Jesus Christ. God formed Adam first, from soil; He then created Eve by taking a rib from Adam and formed her. When Eve was formed Adam said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’ (Genesis 2:23). This is more than fact. This is the revelation of God’s truth. Adam prefigures Christ. A spear was thrust into the side of Jesus on the cross and out of His side flowed blood and water, John 19:34. These are the elements by which Christ would cleanse and sanctify His Bride, the Church. (Hebrews 9:19; 1 John 5:6; 1:7). And so the Bible declares that we, Christ’s Church, are ‘members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.’ Note the parallels between Adam and Christ. Paul is again taking the truths of creation and applying them to Christ and His church. God fore-knowing what He would do through Christ, reflected these truths concerning Christ and His Bride when He formed Eve out of Adam’s side, Eph. 5:25-32. These truths constitute a unity and divine revelation. Theistic evolution blows the unity and integrity of these truths apart.
The Creation of all things
When giving the Law to Israel, God Himself told them through Moses that they should work six days and rest on the seventh because, ‘in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is and rested the seventh day.’ (Ex.20:11). God is here confirming what was written in Genesis 1. The numbers ‘six’ and ‘seven’ are significant and symbolic in the scriptures. One can’t just render them indefinite or vague, except by destroying their significance or symbolism. If the word ‘day’ is used allegorically, it is certainly not allegorical for innumerable millions of years! Genesis 1 clearly and deliberately depicts God’s creative power in speaking things into being. Repeatedly it is written, ’And God said…’ And it was so! This is more than just common language. It is specific revelation concerning the manner in which God created all things. ‘By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.’ (Psalm 33:6). ‘Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.’ the centurion said (Mtt.8:8), and Jesus commended him for having more faith than anyone in Israel. Theistic evolution challenges the revelation of the very manner in which God made all things. Not all Hebrew scholars of the Old Testament personally believe in a literal six-day creation. However, they do genreally agree that the writer of Genesis meant the creation account to be taken literally because of the language he uses! The Hebrew inescapably points to a literal understanding of the text, not an allegorical one! The Hebrew scholars are presumably just as expert in their field as scientists in theirs!
The Genesis account makes it plain that it was not by ‘chance’ or any kind of evolution that living species came about. How wonderfully clear God makes it in Genesis 1. It says that at creation God made the plants, fish, birds, insects and animals ‘after their kind’, in other words, according to their species! This phrase is repeated ten times in Genesis 1. Why emphasise this point? The point is this: it declares to us that God Almighty created completed species and that these species reproduced according to their kind! It says nothing about species evolving into other species, which it could easily have done if it had happened that way! Nothing could more specifically contradict the notion of evolution than these statements in Genesis 1. Just and allegory? Not meant to teach us about science? It is as though Genesis 1 had been written with the very purpose of refuting any notion of evolution! Such an ‘allegory’ is hardly a good advertisement for evolution! (Obviously, once species had been created minor changes could take place within species, and other changes through cross-breeding. However, these kind of changes don’t prove evolution nor do they equate to it.)
How is it that we do not understand that the Genesis account represents much more than science? It is not the work of man or man’s ‘best guess’ at things – it is the revelation of God; God actively involved in inspiring the scriptures to reveal not just facts, but truth to our hearts. It is no accident or allegory when it is written that God created light first. God created light before He created the sun and stars! This is not poetry at work. The Bible is revealing basic truths to us that also have spiritual significance. God’s nature is revealed by His outward acts. God brings light as His first work of creation! Thus we read in 2 Cor. 4:6 ‘For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’ This is the spiritual parallel which the Genesis account reflects and prefigures. It is the revelation concerning how God works.
It is difficult to identify the replacement theology of theistic evolution. So it is out some ignorance that we now genuinely ask the following questions. What does theistic evolution specifically teach? That God developed one man from among a multitude of ape-like creatures and then formed Eve from his rib? If He formed Eve from his rib, why bother spending millions of years developing man from an ape? Or does it propose that God developed only Adam and Eve from apes and that all the rest of mankind stemmed from them? Again this would represent an incredibly lengthy process for the sake of developing two human beings. Presumably, it suggests that a large number of ape-like creatures around the world gradually developed into human beings. (This, of course, monumentally contradicts the Genesis account and turns into myth all the NT references to the creation of man and woman.) Did God choose two of them to look after the garden of Eden or not? And what happened to the others who had also turned into humans? Did they sin too, independently of Adam? (Or was there no ‘Adam’ at all?) Did they all sin at the same time or were there those who had fallen into sin and spiritual death while others yet hadn’t; and what kind of relationship was there between these two groups of humans and between each group and God? (And how are we to understand and interpret Romans 5 in such a context?). Did God erase from their memory their natural origins or did they realise that those creatures who hadn’t turned into humans were their ‘forefathers’? And what was the relationship like between those who had turned into humans and their parents or siblings who had remained animals? How did they communicate? Or did God ensure that such (ape-like?) creatures only crossed over the line into becoming humans after their parents and siblings had died to avoid such a distasteful anomaly and such horrendous confusion? Or did all those who had developed into ‘near-humans’ become spiritual and moral beings en masse and all at the same time? And who was responsible for bringing sin and death into the world? One man or many men, or many men and women? And what happens to the theology of sin in that case? Who and what brought sin and death into the world?
Just as fundamentally and importantly, how did this change from ape to human take place? There must have been a moment in time when a creature, which lived by animal instinct – however ‘intelligent’ – somehow ceased being an animal and became a moral and spiritual being capable of knowing and having fellowship with God? Presumably, it is not suggested that this could have taken place through any kind of natural development? That would truly be the abandonment of all reason, scriptural or otherwise! It would be completely to misunderstand the nature of moral and spiritual being. Once you are a moral and spiritual being, then of course you can grow as such, but there must be a starting point and that starting point has to come directly from God. For someone to be made in the image of God and be made with the capacity to know Him and have fellowship with Him requires nothing less than the miraculous, supernatural intervention of God! It would indeed represent a new creation – a creation of God on a far grander, deeper scale than any purely physical miracle or creation! God can multiply two loaves and five fishes and feed thousands from such a creative miracle. He can still the storm. He can turn water into wine. He can give a man a body made from the dust of the earth. But to give this body life, with a moral and spiritual dimension, is a miracle of such supernatural wonder and grandeur, that it surpasses by far other merely physical miracles. To create a body out of the dust is almost nothing compared to this! Not to recognise and appreciate this distinction would be to strike at the heart of spiritual truth. Why would God ordain a process of billions of years to develop the merely physical when the ‘true’ work of creation for which He made man would have to take place through an instant supernatural divine intervention of creative power? Just as importantly, it is unimaginable that God would associate His image with that of apes! He could not superimpose His image onto that of any kind of ape that lived by animal instinct – however ‘developed’. The notion is bizarre and is, in essence, blasphemous. The miracle of making man a living soul capable of communion with God constitutes such a fundamental change of creative work that no kind of natural evolution could bring a creature anywhere near to such a state.
God does not associate Himself with dust either, but the point is that He formed man directly, separately and distinct from animals. The scripture says clearly, and for a reason, ‘…and man became a living soul.’ (Gen.2:7). An ape didn’t become a living soul capable of knowing God. Adam did.
It is no good just crying out, ‘It’s allegorical! It’s allegorical! Or, ’It’s poetical! It’s not meant to be taken literally! It’s not meant to teach us science! It just reveals the ‘Who’ not the ‘how!’ This is no sufficient answer. This is no answer at all! It doesn’t address the serious questions above. One might be utterly convinced concerning theistic evolution, but such conviction should not lead one to simply ignore and not address the inherent contradictions between this viewpoint and certain scriptural passages and teachings. If we have a concern for biblical teaching and regard it in as high an esteem (if not higher!) as scientific theory, then of necessity the above inevitable questions and objections must be addressed. Are there any such answers that would still uphold the inspiration of those scriptures?
Throughout the Bible God is declared to be the Creator – not the developer of evolver – of all things. And the angel ‘…swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that are therein, and the earth, and the things that are therein, and the sea, and the things which are therein…’ Rev.10:6. This is the consistent revelation of scripture and not the result of man’s imagination.
The apostle Peter says, ‘Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:20,21). This declares the scriptures to be inspired by God. This does not lead to unthinking assent. The Bible itself is the best commentator on the Bible and to study and meditate on the scriptures is to gain an insight and understanding into the wonderful integrity and unity of its teaching and truth – it leads to revelation of truth to the heart by the Spirit of God. God says. ‘I am the Lord, I change not.’ (Mal.3:6). Theories of science are subject to change. According to the Big Bang theory, the universe as we know it exploded out from an infinitesimally small speck of infinite density. The universe came out of something that was virtually invisible! This is modern science and it is only an infinitesimally small hair’s breadth away from what the Bible long ago taught us! (Rom.1:20;).
‘Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.’
‘I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.’
Hebrews 11:3; Isaiah 45:12
Some final thoughts
In the end we are all just men and women. Being a scientist doesn’t imbue one with guaranteed objectivity or infallibility. A scientist is just a man or woman who is studies science. The discipline requires detachment and objectivity. Alas, this is not always guaranteed. Observation, collecting data and carrying out experiments is one thing. How we interpret the data is something else altogether! Consider the suggestion in a book promoting Theistic Evolution. The author, a scientist, argues that Genesis 1 isn’t meant to teach us science – which has now become a cliché as well as being a red herring. His grounds for stating this is that in Genesis 1 it talks about God creating two large lights – the sun and the moon. The writer then reminds us that the sun and moon are not the largest celestial bodies in the sky at all. He proceeds to tell us that we now know there are far larger stars in the universe than our sun. Hence the Bible got it wrong and is not meant to teach us science! This is, however, a classic case of argument from abuse. Genesis does not say that God created our sun and moon as the two largest lights in the universe. It says that God created two large lights. Visually from the earth’s perspective, this remains true to this day. In fact, when you look up into the sky they are the two largest bodies visually. We do not read that God created the sun and moon larger than the other stars. It simply doesn’t say that. This is such a basic failure of the application of reason and logic at the simplest level that it is hard to account for it. It seems that in our desire to support one view against another, rational thought gives way to bias which satisfies itself with the most specious of arguments.
This is not said just in order to pick holes in an argument. Nor does the above point prove anything either way concerning evolution. The point is this. If in our desire to defend our cause we can make such fundamental mistakes in the simplest and clearest of matters, how does such devotion to one’s cause influence one’s reasoning, interpretations and deductions when considering all the complicated data that underlie the theory of evolution. One can interpret according to expected or desired end rather according to what can be clearly shown and demonstrated. Of course most of us are not scientists and therefore not able to follow all the arguments and understand all the data, and consequently cannot know when there might be a fundamental failure of logic, a misguided interpretation of data, an assumption that is presented as fact. The vast majority of people are not scientists, so they need to invest a huge amount of faith in the reliability and interpretation of scientists who claim evolution, for there is no way they can be certain about the veracity of their claims. This could also be said about other things like electricity, for example. Most of us don’t know the science of how it works, but the great difference is that we can see it working! Evolution has not been demonstrated in the same way. The other difference is that the Bible does give us an account of creation and it conflicts with evolution. There is no book that conflicts with the science of electricity!
Another example comes from a short exchange I had with a university professor of biosciences. He had given me a book on intelligent design to read. On returning the book, I told him that evolution is but a theory based on assumptions. He immediately replied, with some emphasis, by saying that my expectation that the sun would rise in the morning is likewise an assumption. I am not exaggerating nor inventing this. I could not believe my ears. How could one compare the two. The rising and the setting of the sun and its orbit is an observable fact. It has been observed by all since the beginning of time. Calculations have been made regarding the sun’s movement so that we know exactly when it will rise at any given location on earth and exact measurements can be made about its location with regard to space travel. The sun’s movements are observable, measurable, provable and predictable. The theory of evolution is not. To say that they are equally based on assumptions is not just a failure, but much more an abandonment of logic and reasoning. Again, this is only anecdotal and I am sure there must be many anecdotes on both sides. It proves nothing either way about the theory in question, but it does raise doubts concerning the objectivity of the interpretation of complex data by scientists that try to uphold the validity of evolution. If one’s devotion to this scientific theory can lead to the above fallacious remarks on the simplest of levels, how is this devotion affecting the way complex scientific data is interpreted?
For the lay person the veracity of this process of interpretation now becomes impossible to judge. How can we distinguish between what is real ‘evidence’, and what is simply the result of an a priori argument. The reason for this, it seems to me, is that the issue has becomes agenda driven rather than evidence led. The agenda starts to determine the interpretation of data and presents its conclusions as facts and dogma, rather than acknowledging the limitations and the lack of final certainty. Added to this is, at times, an almost instant and intolerant dismissal – by some – of any challenge to its ‘certainties’. So it then takes on the nature of intimidating proselytising rather than of a detached scientific appraisal that is aware of its lack of full and verifiable evidence. Of course it is not difficult to find examples of religious bias and intolerance, but one is taken aback to find representatives of the scientific community taking on an air of a religious fervour and bias! None of this in itself proves or disproves anything concerning the theory of evolution. But the credibility of the theory of evolution is only further undermined when its supporters use arguments that are not logically consistent or intellectually honest, or when their defence takes on the character of the dogmatic preaching of a religious ideology!
P.S. I would be grateful to receive any corrections to any obvious factual mistakes in any of the ‘science’ I have referred to above, especially at the beginning of the article. This comes not from any motive to misrepresent ‘the other side’ but from either being misinformed or being misled by what has been written in articles on the internet!
“The motivation behind theistic evolution is unclear. The general populace accept the veracity of evolution unchallenged and thus a religious individual may well attempt to adopt some form of evolutionary belief to gain respect within that populace. Yet the general populace is largely scientifically ignorant, and so, ironically, can only explain the rationale of evolutionary theory by faith and hearsay. The ‘preaching’ of evolution in this way is doubly ironic, since it mirrors well the behaviour of religious fanatics of yesteryear, who compelled acceptance of religious dogma throughout the general population.
Overall it is shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the Biblical descriptions of human history fundamentally contradict the necessary core teachings of evolution. However much the Bible account is defocused from fact into metaphor (itself a dubious practice), and however much the theory of evolution is deified to picture God lighting the fuse of a deliberately designed evolutionary sequence, the theories remain unmarriageable. This conclusion is not reached at the premeditated intention of the author; indeed the reverse is desirable to gain common ground amongst the widest audience. It is rather through considered assessment of the necessary consequences of evolution and the Biblical record that these ideologies are concluded mutually exclusive.”
“Genesis is styled as an allegory, in the genre of figurative language and fairy tales. Being more socially and politically acceptable than creation, theistic evolution tries to accommodate evolution and creation at the same time, as a shot-gun marriage of contraries. We are still responsible to our Creator, yet somehow the Darwinist is also seen to be credible.
Theistic evolution is a compromise based on a contradiction. The Bible doesn’t teach evolution, and evolutionists cannot believe the Bible. Thevolution is an ideology masquerading as both naturalism and theology. Creation and evolution are so strongly divergent that reconciliation is logically impossible. Theistic evolution’s attempted conflation reduces the message of the Bible to insignificance. By lacking Scriptural support, theistic evolution loses meaning through its own reductionism.”
http://www.kolbecenter.org/bennett.thevol2.htm A Summary of Theistic Evolution by Dr. Robert Bennett